MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Hurricane and Storm Surge Warnings remain in effect for the entire South Carolina coastline as Dorian passes very near the coast during the day Thursday.
At 200 PM EDT (1800 UTC), the center of Hurricane Dorian was located near latitude 32.9 North, longitude 78.6 West. Dorian is moving toward the north-northeast near 8 mph. A turn toward the northeast is anticipated by tonight, and a northeastward motion at a faster forward speed is forecast on Friday. On the forecast track, the center of Dorian will continue to move close to the coast of South Carolina this afternoon, and then move near or over the coast of North Carolina tonight and Friday.
The center should move to the southeast of extreme southeastern New England Friday night and Saturday morning, and approach Nova Scotia later on Saturday. Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 110 mph with higher gusts. Slow weakening is expected during the next few days. However, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as the center moves near the coasts of South and North Carolina. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.
The Weatherflow station at Winyah Bay, South Carolina, recently reported sustained winds of 77 mph and a wind gust of 85 mph. A buoy operated by the Coastal Ocean Research and Monitoring Program 15 miles northeast of the entrance to Charleston Harbor recently reported a wind gust of 92 mph. The minimum central pressure based on Hurricane Hunter aircraft and buoy data is 958 mb. NOAA buoy 41004 reported a minimum pressure of 959.4 mb as the eye passed over it.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide:
Isle of Palms to Myrtle Beach SC...5 to 8 ft
Savannah River to Isle of Palms SC...4 to 7 ft
Myrtle Beach SC to Cape Lookout NC...4 to 7 ft
Storm surge of this height can lead to significant coastal flooding of flood prone areas of Garden City, Cherry Grove, Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet. Large battering waves could lead significant beach erosion, dune breaches and ocean overwash in some areas. If Dorian is stronger, or passes closer to the coast, more significant storm surge would be possible. If Dorian’s highest surge coincides with the times of high tide, even higher surge would develop with a surge of 8 feet or more possible. High tide on Thursday is at 12:28 AM and 1:34 PM on Thursday. By comparison, the storm surge from Hurricane Matthew reached 7 feet at Cherry Grove Pier, 8.4 feet at Springmaid Pier and 9.6 feet at the mouth of the Waccamaw River near Pawleys Island.
Impacts from storm surge could be significant and reach greater than 6 feet above ground in some areas. Inundation is likely to impact vulnerable homes along tidal creeks and waterways farther inland. Large sections of coastal roads will become flooded. Severe beach erosion is expected with significant dune loss. Sands from displaced dunes will likely deposit onto the barrier island roads. Damage to marinas, docks, boardwalks, and piers is possible.
Water levels could begin to rise well in advance of the arrival of strong winds. The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the how close the center of Dorian comes to the coast, and can vary greatly over short distances.
Large swells will affect the northwestern Bahamas, and the entire southeastern United States coast from Florida through North Carolina during the next several days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Very heavy rain will fall near and along the track of Hurricane Dorian. Rainfall amounts will drop off significantly further inland. Based on the latest forecast track, rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches will be possible especially near the coast. Isolated rainfall totals of over a foot will be possible near the coast. Rainfall amounts well inland will quickly drop off to 2 to 5 inches, with areas west of I-95 likely to see even less. Areas near the coast will be very susceptible to flash flooding as the heaviest rain falls late Thursday into Thursday evening.
Small creeks, swashes, retention ponds, low lying areas and flood prone roads may see considerable flooding. With much lower rainfall totals further inland, major river flooding is not expected at this time, but is something to keep a close eye on by the end of the week.
Wind gusts to tropical storm force will begin around sunrise Thursday near the coast and then gradually spread inland. Winds will gradually increase through the day with the highest winds arriving by the late afternoon and evening. Gusts to near hurricane force are likely near the beaches.
Based on the latest forecast track, tropical storm force wind gusts of 55 to 70 mph are likely for areas along the Grand Strand. Wind gusts of this magnitude would be capable of downing trees and power lines along with areas of minor wind damage. Shingles, roofing, siding and awnings can be damaged in wind gusts that strong. Wind gusts to hurricane force, above 75 mph, are possible right along the beaches. If the storm tracks a little further west, much higher winds would be possible.
Across the Pee Dee, 35 to 55 mph winds are likely especially in areas east of Interstate 95. Power outages are most likely in areas near the coast but isolated outages could occur inland as well. Trees and limbs left damaged from recent hurricanes may fall during Dorian’s winds. The strongest winds are forecast to arrive from mid morning Thursday and last through late Thursday evening.
With Dorian forecast to pass just off shore, the risk of tornadoes is quite low. A few of the rain bands ahead of the hurricane could produce brief tornadoes near the Grand Strand late Wednesday night and Thursday.
SMALL CHANGES, BIG IMPACTS:
It’s important to note that any small change to the track will result in changes to the impacts. A 15-25 mile shift to the west will bringeven worse conditions onshore as Dorian moves along the South Carolina coast. While the forecast track has remained steady, there are still a few small differences in the timing and actual track from the forecast models. Last minute adjustments to the forecast track will be likely through Thursday.